Restorative Justice Community Courts coming to Avondale, Englewood

Released On 07/31/2020

The Circuit Court of Cook County is set to launch its latest effort to address nonviolent crime and prevent recidivism with the opening of new Restorative Justice Community Courts in Chicago’s Avondale and Englewood neighborhoods, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced today.

These new neighborhood courts follow the success of the state’s first Restorative Justice Community Court in the North Lawndale neighborhood, launched in 2017. Both the Avondale and Englewood community courts will open on September 14.

The Avondale court will be held at St. Hyacinth Basilica, Resurrection Hall, 3647 W. George Street in Chicago, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on Monday, August 3. The Englewood court will be held at the Salvation Army’s Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center, 845 W. 69th Street, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for Monday, August 10, also at 11 a.m.

The community court resolves conflicts through restorative conferences and peace circles involving defendants, victims, family members, friends, others affected by the crime, and the community.

Victims have the opportunity to directly address the defendant to express how they were hurt and what they need to heal from the crime.

Defendants must repair the harm caused by their actions through community service. If one of the defendant’s problems is substance abuse, they also must go through a program to address that issue.

Chief Judge Evans said that part of the community court’s mission is to end the harmful cycle of revenge and recidivism.

“The whole purpose of the repair-harm agreement is to prevent a defendant from hurting a victim again, but also to stop the conduct and help that defendant realize what the consequences of that behavior are,” Evans said.

For a case to be eligible for the court, the victim of the crime must agree to participate in the process. In addition, the person charged must:

  • Be 18 to 26
  • Have been charged with a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor
  • Live in one of the neighborhoods which has a community court
  • Have a nonviolent criminal history
  • Accept responsibility for the harm caused

The Avondale court will be run by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Kristyna Ryan, and the Englewood court will be run by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Donna Cooper. Judges Ryan and Cooper will make decisions on community-based sentences and treatment for the defendants.

The Social Service Department, a community corrections agency which reports to Chief Judge Evans, will work with the RJCC on this initiative. Defendants who successfully complete the program may have the opportunity to have their charges dropped and arrests expunged.

Members of the community were extensively involved in the development and planning of the RJCC. Planning was guided by a steering committee that consisted of both community and government stakeholders.

Since its opening in August 2017, the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Court, run by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Spratt, has seen about 130 defendants as participants. Thirty people have officially graduated from the program, and others have successfully completed the process and are waiting for the next graduation ceremony, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. The court typically sees about 12 defendants per week, either in person or through Zoom remote hearings.

Public officials invited to the Avondale ribbon-cutting ceremony include Chief Judge Evans, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli, Aldermen Ariel Reboyras, Carlos Ramirez Rosa, Felix Cardona and Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez; Cook County Commissioners Luis Arroyo Jr. and Bridget Degnen; and State Senator Iris Martinez. Also invited are representatives of community groups, including the Avondale and Logan Square Neighborhood Associations.

The ceremony will be held outside of Resurrection Hall. Attendees should wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing.
Public officials invited to the Englewood ceremony include Judge Evans, State’s Attorney Foxx, Public Defender Campanelli; and Aldermen David Moore, Jeanette Taylor, Roderick Sawyer, Stephanie Coleman and Raymond Lopez. Also invited are representatives of community organizations, including Teamwork Englewood and the Resident Association of Greater Englewood.

Another news release will be distributed in the days before the Englewood Community Court ribbon-cutting ceremony, with further details. As resources permit, the court plans to establish RJCC in other areas of the county.

For the Polish translation of this press release, click here.
For the Spanish translation of this press release, click here.


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